Healthier Advertising in Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan

Evaluation in progress. Expected completion date December 2024

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

The PHIRST research to evaluate our Healthier Advertising programme of work is extremely valuable to the collaborative approach we are taking in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to improve health.  We know that exposure to the advertising of foods and drinks that are High in Fat, Sugar and or /Salt (HFSS) has an impact on the foods and drinks that people purchase and consume. Exposure is also unequal across communities with people living in disadvantaged areas more likely to be exposed to HFSS advertising.  Understanding this further from the perspectives of people living in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as more widely from stakeholders that are key to bringing about change, will help us to build evidence for, and better understand the impact of policy change in this area.

What does the research evaluation mean for the Public?

The findings of this project will help the Local Authority partners to understand how the public perceive the advertising of food and drink products in their local area. It will also provide insight into the perceived impacts of planned policy changes as well as what factors may help or hinder the introduction of any changes. This is important as it will help lead to a healthier environment for the public, in which they are exposed to less unhealthy HFSS food and drink advertising in their local area.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

Public involvement is embedded in PHIRST Insight’s work and activities through a number of avenues.

A Public Involvement representative has been involved in the study evaluation since project allocation, contributing to the co-produced evaluation design and continuing to contribute expertise on the conduct of school related activities and wider public involvement consultations. They will also be actively involved in data collection and the interpretation of data from school focus groups. Throughout the lifetime of the project, they will continue to provide an invaluable lay perspective and meaningful contribution.

We are working closely with members of a local Youth Council group, who have been advising on the content and format of focus groups that will be taking place in Secondary Schools. Over a series of consultations, they have shared their expertise and provided views on the potential influences food and drink advertising might have on young people.

We plan to work with a local primary school in Wales to inform the development and design of primary school-based focus groups and to help us to understand how best to disseminate the evaluation findings for maximum impact among school and community populations.

By drawing on the expertise of youths and younger children we aim to ensure that all research tools are relevant, appropriate, and accessible for the targeted populations.

Lay summary of research

Levels of obesity have been increasing in the United Kingdom, with people living in poorer areas more likely to be living with obesity compared to those living in less deprived areas. Cardiff and the Vale University Health Board, Cardiff Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council are working together to tackle obesity and improve healthy weight across the region. As part of these efforts there is a plan to reduce the advertising of unhealthy High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) food and drinks on council owned and run advertising sites across both local authorities.

This project will look at what the public think about food and drink advertising in their local area and what the effects might be of reducing unhealthy HFSS advertising. It will do this by using a mix of surveys, interviews and focus groups with local residents, stakeholders and school pupils. The results will be used to help inform policy makers when making decisions about healthier food advertising in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

To do this we will answer six research questions:

  1. What are the public perceptions around HFSS and non-HFSS advertising in the local area?
  2. What are the public perceptions around the HFSS policies and their perceived or potential impact?
  3. How do perceptions and self-reported HFSS consumption vary by local authority and participant demographics (age, deprivation, ethnicity etc.)?
  4. How do public perceptions vary by proximity to HFSS and non-HFSS advertising and to food outlets?
  5. Do self-reported purchasing and consumption rates of HFS foods differ following the implementation of policies, and if so how?
  6. What are the barriers and facilitators to policy implementation from the perspective of key stakeholders?

This project will use a mix of methods to answer the research questions.

  • An online survey completed by residents aged 16 and over, living in Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan. These surveys will be conducted before and after any HFSS policy changes.
  • One-to-one interviews with residents aged 16 and over, living in Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan.
  • Focus groups with primary school-aged and secondary school-aged pupils in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
  • Secondary analysis of mapping data collected by the local authority team. These data show the number and location of HFSS and non-HFSS advertising and food outlets in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
  • One-to-one interviews with stakeholders including the local authority representatives and advertisement agency representatives.

Phirst Insight

Research team

Dr Kelly Morgan, (Chief Investigator)

Dr Elinor Coulman (Co- Chief Investigator) 

Dr Samantha Garay (Research Associate)  

Prof Frank De Vocht (Senior Quantitative advisor) 

Dr Jemma Hawkins (PHIRST advisor) 

Local Authority/Partner(s)

Rebecca Stewart (Head of Programme – Cardiff and Vale Public Health Team) 

Chloe Barrell (Cardiff and Vale Public Health Team),  

Sam Chettleburgh (Cardiff Council)  

Andreas Peiris-Plumley (Vale of Glamorgan Council).